The art of telling stories through pictures, when done right, can often leave an ever-lasting impression on an audience. It is this ability to evoke emotions, which prompted professional photographer, teacher and qualified attorney Kago Barnett (27) to follow her passion for photography.
Barnett collaborated with Kumba Iron Ore to present a photography workshop for the youth in Kathu and Siyathemba, as part of commemorating youth month. The workshop was hosted on June 28, 2019 at the Siyathemba Youth Centre. The initiative was aimed to introduce photography, as not only an art, but also another avenue in which the unemployed youth of Siyathemba and surrounding areas could be able to generate an income and create a livelihood.
The workshop attracted 15 unemployed youth from Kathu and Siyathemba, of which eleven were female. Kumba supplied the young participants in the workshop with 15 state of the art cameras with the aim to empower them with photography skills, that will present an opportunity to explore and create alternative income opportunities as well as entrepreneurial opportunities.
“The idea to impart photography skills came from the desire to popularise the idea of photography in the area among the youth and particularly women. The other idea was to fill a gap that is not catered for by the institutions of higher learning, whereby I am able to impart skills and training to the youth in the area (Siyathemba and Kathu),” Barnett said.
For the residents of Siyathemba and the outside world, such a programme is important, as it will assist to capture the transition that residents from Dingleton make and document life at the newly formed township of Siyathemba.
Siyathemba and Kathu lie within the Kalahari region, a semi-desert that straddles the Orange River valleys and the various iron ore mining operations within the region.
“Our location provides an opportunity for the various forms of photography; from landscaping, nature and wildlife, as well as events including corporate and entertainment. The participants in the workshop can also branch out into photojournalism and be employed by any newspapers,” Barnett said.
For Nonhlakanipho Malinga (27), a volunteer for LoveLife in Siyathemba, the workshop presented an opportunity that she never thought existed before and was an area that she was open to exploring.
“I found the workshop was very helpful, in that it clarified some elements about photography, the various aspects of the work of a photographer, and how one can make a living out of it,” Malinga said.
Leozel van der Westhuizen, another participant in the workshop, confirmed that the exposure into the world of photography presented a “wonderful experience” that inspired her to take forward.
“People see things differently, and photography is about taking different perspectives and sharing them with the rest of the public. One can make a career out of it, and it can empower me to be more able to sustain myself,” van der Westhuizen said.
In handing over the cameras to the youth, Dr George Maluleke, Kumba’s General Manager: Projects, spoke profoundly about Sam Nzima, the photographer who took the famous Hector Peterson picture on 16 June 1976. For him, the picture told a powerful story of the uprisings and got the world talking and it is still a point of reference even today. He encouraged the youth about the power of photography and opportunities thereof.
“The youth are the catalysts and enablers of economic growth. As Anglo American Kumba Iron Ore, we consider this initiative of empowering the youth means developing a generation of future leaders and entrepreneurs who will create opportunities for growth for others, “Dr Maluleke said.